Top French ski resorts on Facebook this season

Tignes, Val Thorens and Orelle are soldiering for another week and the Pic du Midi is still open too, but it’s raining at over 2,000m as I write this and most resorts are gearing up for summer already. Time to round up how the winter season went on social media for the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook.

Winners and losers

So who posted the biggest gains in terms of fan growth this season among the top 50?

Saint Gervais (+156%) after it cleaned up its social media presence and merged the tourist office and lift company pages. Second was Valloire (+69%) which benefited from the JB effect after local hero Jean-Baptiste Grange was crowned slalom World Champion for the second time in a row. And third: Ax 3 Domaines, which hit the 30,000 fans milestone in March. Among the domains, the Grand Massif made good progress (+46%).

At the other end of the scale, Megève lost just under 7% of fans over the season, mostly after Facebook initiated a clean-up of inactive accounts in March.

A season of milestones

This was the season that the first European ski resort hit 200,000 Facebook fans and it was a French one: Val Thorens. Fresh from its success in being voted World’s Best Ski Resort for the second year in a row, Val Tho joins an elite band of North American resorts: Jackson HoleMammoth and Whistler / Blackcomb.

Other resorts hitting milestones this season included La Plagne (50k), Ax 3 Domaines and Saint Lary in the Pyrenees (30k), La Norma (20k), and several at 10k+ : Saint Gervais, Les Saisies, Piau-Engaly and Sainte Foy.

A successful printemps du ski?

This spring’s France Montagnes’ campaign, Le Printemps du Ski, or Skiing into Spring in English, was an attempt to fight back against the erosion of late season business in recent years, not helped by the Easter calendar and late French school holidays. How well did it go?

Well, one particularly active participant in the campaign, Saint François Longchamp, certainly seems to have benefited, at least on Facebook. It finished the season strongly, gaining 10% in March, 24% in April, and scoring nearly 58k views for this video:

Overall, though, the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook grew their fans just 0.9% in April on average, down from 2.6% in April 2014.

A time to thank the fans

Finally, this is a good time for resorts to show their appreciation and thank their fans for their support over the season. Show them some love. Here’s what happens when you do (they appreciate it):

Ax 3 Domaines FB screenshot

Have a good relaxing inter-season everyone and here is the ranking in full, as recorded on 1 May 2015:

Top 5 French ski domains on Facebook

  1. Portes du Soleil – 111,417 fans
  2. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 60,016
  3. Haute Maurienne Vanoise – 48,309
  4. Les 3 Vallées – 29,475
  5. Grand Massif – 19,181

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook

  1. Val Thorens – 202,553 fans
  2. Megève – 107,579
  3. Val d’Isère – 96,370
  4. Chamonix – 79,225
  5. Les Menuires – 73,393
  6. Tignes – 64,900
  7. La Clusaz – 62,851
  8. Les Arcs – 61,493
  9. Courchevel – 55,122
  10. La Plagne – 50,580
  11. Alpe d’Huez – 46,036
  12. Les 2 Alpes – 44,847
  13. Cauterets – 41,403
  14. Serre Chevalier – 39,977
  15. Le Grand Bornand – 37,708
  16. Avoriaz – 36,572
  17. Vars – 31,551
  18. Saint Lary – 30,797
  19. Ax 3 Domaines – 30,004
  20. Méribel – 29,134
  21. Les Gets – 24,775
  22. La Norma – 20,793
  23. Orcières – 19,267
  24. Saint François Longchamp – 18,235
  25. Valloire – 17,684
  26. Les Sept Laux – 15,366
  27. Le Dévoluy – 15,214
  28. Peyragudes – 15,179
  29. Lac Blanc – 14,207
  30. Les Orres – 13,911
  31. Châtel – 13,876
  32. Morzine – 13,587
  33. Les Contamines – 13,347
  34. Le Lioran – 12,117
  35. Montgenèvre – 12,010
  36. Grand Tourmalet – 11,960
  37. Saint Gervais – 11,598
  38. Les Saisies – 11,379
  39. Piau-Engaly – 11,379
  40. Sainte Foy – 10,741
  41. Aussois – 10,202
  42. Les Angles – 9,506
  43. La Pierre St Martin – 9,275
  44. Chamrousse – 9,059
  45. Isola 2000 – 8,594
  46. Val Cenis Vanoise – 8,251
  47. Gourette – 8,198
  48. Risoul – 7,996
  49. Praloup – 7,855
  50. Arêches-Beaufort – 7,612

Please note: these are official pages only and only those resorts are included that have at least some alpine ski uplift capacity, ie a ski lift. Sorry if I’ve missed anyone and please let me know so this list can be improved for next month. Linked resorts/domains like the 3 Valleys are ranked separately and the count was done on 1 May 2015.

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French ski resorts lose likes after Facebook clean-up

Many French ski resorts saw their Facebook pages lose likes in March, after Facebook started a clean-up to remove likes from inactive and in memoriam accounts. As one tech site explained, “the new changes in their likes policy should mean that those buying likes… would also see their page likes decrease by the thousands…”

So which French resorts have been most affected so far? These resorts lost the most likes in March:

  1. Megève (-8,824)
  2. Val Thorens (-4,179)
  3. Courchevel  (-1,100)
  4. Saint Lary (-1,008)
  5. Alpe d’Huez (-997)

Despite the purge, 20 of the top 50 still managed to gain fans in March, led by Saint Gervais, which jumped to no. 37 (+59%) after merging the lift company’s page with that of the Tourist Office.

Valloire grew its fans 20%, still riding the wave of Jean-Baptiste Grange’s World Championship success, running a photo contest and promoting cross-linkage with its instagram account:

Saint François Longchamp (+10%) has been actively pushing the Printemps du Ski campaign of France Montagnes and the hashtag #mySFL:

Overall, taking into account the purge, the top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook in February grew their likes by just 1.5% on average, compared to 12% in February.

Here is the ranking in full, as recorded on 2 April 2015:

Top 5 French ski domains on Facebook

  1. Portes du Soleil – 111,574 fans
  2. Nouvelles Pyrénées – 59,471
  3. Haute Maurienne Vanoise – 48,393
  4. Les 3 Vallées – 29,283
  5. Grand Massif – 18,930

Top 50 French ski resorts on Facebook

  1. Val Thorens – 202,499 fans
  2. Megève – 107,687
  3. Val d’Isère – 94,867
  4. Chamonix – 79,080
  5. Les Menuires – 73,443
  6. La Clusaz – 63,020
  7. Tignes – 62,161
  8. Les Arcs – 61,449
  9. Courchevel – 54,964
  10. La Plagne – 50,452
  11. Alpe d’Huez – 45,945
  12. Les 2 Alpes – 44,635
  13. Cauterets – 41,421
  14. Serre Chevalier – 39,917
  15. Le Grand Bornand – 37,259
  16. Avoriaz – 36,400
  17. Vars – 31,198
  18. Saint Lary – 30,821
  19. Ax 3 Domaines – 30,020
  20. Méribel – 29,035
  21. Les Gets – 24,702
  22. La Norma – 20,820
  23. Orcières – 19,236
  24. Valloire – 17,663
  25. Les Sept Laux – 15,303
  26. Le Dévoluy – 15,219
  27. Peyragudes – 15,170
  28. Saint François Longchamp – 14,678
  29. Lac Blanc – 14,146
  30. Les Orres – 13,891
  31. Châtel – 13,851
  32. Morzine – 13,568
  33. Les Contamines – 13,353
  34. Le Lioran – 12,092
  35. Grand Tourmalet – 11,930
  36. Montgenèvre – 11,854
  37. Saint Gervais – 11,495
  38. Les Saisies – 11,316
  39. Piau-Engaly – 11,302
  40. Sainte Foy – 10,439
  41. Aussois – 10,194
  42. Les Angles – 9,482
  43. La Pierre St Martin – 9,218
  44. Chamrousse – 9,026
  45. Isola 2000 – 8,538
  46. Val Cenis Vanoise – 8,204
  47. Gourette – 8,199
  48. Risoul – 8,012
  49. Praloup – 7,835
  50. Arêches-Beaufort – 7,603

Please note: these are official pages only and only those resorts are included that have at least some alpine ski uplift capacity, ie a ski lift. Sorry if I’ve missed anyone and please let me know so this list can be improved for next month. Linked resorts/domains like the 3 Valleys are ranked separately and the count was done on 2 April.

Cooler heads: taking stock of French ski resorts

BEST-SKI-RESORT-The-Winner-is-540

Much emotion has been spilled over the French ski hosting ban in the British media these past few weeks. Just the other day, there was Neil English in the Mail on Sunday calling for a boycott of French ski resorts: “We’ve recently given the French a bloody nose in the Six Nations rugby – now it seems we might also have to teach them a lesson on their own ski slopes,” he wrote with typical Mail diplomacy. 

The Brits have just a bit of a history of liking a scrap with the French and this may well be a lot of bluster that blows over once the balmy days of summer take hold (although reports that Crystal Ski is “talking about shifting allocations and flights for next winter”, if true, are worrying).

Perhaps it is a good time to take a more measured look at what it is that people – not just Brits – like about wintersport holidays in France.

Two surveys have caught my eye recently.

Best Ski Resort Report is an assertive title, and is based on satisfaction surveys of skiers and snowboarders of various nationalities in 55 ski resorts in Europe, conducted in the 2011-12 season. The resorts in the survey were selected on “criteria such as size of ski resort, overnight accommodation and renown”, including 18 in Austria, 14 in Switzerland, 12 in France, 9 in Italy and 2 in Germany.

The other is compiled from feedback to Zoover.nl, a popular holiday review portal in the Netherlands, similar to TripAdvisor, so reflects primarily the perspective of the Dutch wintersport market.

Tough critics

First of all, it must be said that the bottom line of both surveys was that the French wintersport experience is not rated as highly as the Austrian, Swiss and Italian competition. Overall.

But, as the Best Ski Resort Report pointed out, French survey respondents tended to score more harshly than Austrian, German, Italian and Swiss (a legacy of the French education system possibly?) and – as they comprised the lion’s share of those surveyed in France – so French ski resorts’ scores came out lower.

In any case, overall scores are a slightly blunt instrument. Dig a little deeper and some interesting details emerge, notably some clear strengths to extract for French ski resorts.

Strength in size

In the Best Ski Resort survey, those surveyed considered ski area size by far the most important criteria for choosing a ski resort and which resorts come out top for that?  The 3 Valleys… with Val d’Isère and Tignes close behind.

Ski area size / pistes:

  1. Les 3 Vallées (FR)
  2. Ischgl (AT)
  3. Val d´Isère (FR)

source: http://best-skiresorts.com/fr/blog/best-ski-resort-2012/

Ski in, ski out

In the Zoover survey, distance from accommodation to the pistes (ski-in, ski-out) was considered the most important factor in rating a ski resort and, again, France came top of that.

Distance to pistes:

  1. France – 8.2
  2. Germany – 8.1
  3. Austria – 8.0
  4. Italy & Switzerland – 7.9

The top three French resorts in this regard were Belle Plagne, Val Thorens and St François Longchamp.

Expert appeal

France also scored highest in offering skiing for good skiers in the Zoover survey.

For experts:

  1. France – 8.3
  2. Italy – 8.2
  3. Switzerland – 8.1
  4. Austria – 8.0
  5. Germany – 6.6

source: http://weblog.zoover.nl

Specifically, Espace Killy and 3 Vallées came out top of all ski resorts in the survey on this measure:

Zoover survey table gevorderden

source: http://weblog.zoover.nl

Stand out from the crowd

One thing about these priority criteria is that, for the most part, you either have them or you don’t. Although it does underline the benefits of smaller resorts connecting up to form larger, linked domains where they can…

Failing that, what of smaller French ski resorts with few black pistes and no ‘skis aux pieds’ access? Is there no hope for them? On the contrary: while the reality is that they may face more competition for wintersport holidaymakers, they also have more opportunity to improve.

Those resorts that can raise their game on aspects viewed as relatively weak overall in France – including ambiance, après-ski and child-friendliness – have the chance to stand out from the crowd.

By the way, another factor, ski schools, ranked as only the 18th most important criteria in ski resort selection in the Best Ski Resort study, after things like spas and wellbeing and snowparks. Perhaps that offers a bit of perspective on the ski hosting saga?